The LaGuardia AirTrain is not the only Cuomo project sent to the graveyard
As governor, Andrew Cuomo backed several big projects that won’t see the light of day.
The plan to create a rail connection to LaGuardia Airport has officially died, as announced by Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday. The proposal is just one of the projects from disgraced former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s tenure that has since failed to come to fruition.
The LaGuardia AirTrain proposal was first introduced in 2015 by Cuomo and was positioned as an answer to the traffic congestion issues that have been plaguing the airport area for years. The initial plan was set to cost $450 million, but it was criticized by community advocates and elected officials who said the AirTrain would lower property values in the area. Since its introduction, Cuomo’s plan for the LaGuardia AirTrain had quadrupled to $2.1 billion.
Hochul asked the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to consider other options and ultimately decided to nix the plan.
The AirTrain proposal was far from the only Cuomo plan to eventually become dead in the water. While it’s been close to two years since the former governor resigned, it’s important to note the several other big Cuomo-era projects that have struggled to make progress – both during his tenure and in the years that followed.
To be fair to the former governor, there were a wide range of big infrastructure projects that have been completed and, in part, define his tenure, including the redevelopment of LaGuardia Airport terminals, the transformation of John F. Kennedy International Airport, the completion of the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge and the expansion of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. In addition, Hochul has notably benefited from several proposals that started under her predecessor – including the unveiling of LaGuardia Airport terminals and renovations to upstate airports.
Another infamous construction plan was first introduced in Cuomo’s 2012 State of the State address. The then-governor proposed a $4 billion plan to build a convention center, hotel and casino complex in Queens; Cuomo positioned the center as a future replacement of the Javits Center. Critics argued the plan was unrealistic and could not compete with major convention centers in other cities. But, Cuomo insisted the plan was “risk-free” and rebuked any concerns about the volatility of the casino industry at the time. While the former governor didn’t make headway on the plans for a convention center over the years, he went on to successfully pivot his focus to expanding the Javits Center four years later.
Aside from construction proposals, Cuomo also had big plans for economic development. In 2019, the then-governor was a huge proponent and supporter of Amazon’s plan to establish its second headquarters in New York City. Progressive state lawmakers – including state Sen. Michael Gianaris – were against the Amazon deal and pushed back on the large amount of public subsidies being offered to the ecommerce giant. When the Amazon plan ultimately unraveled, Cuomo said he was “sick to my stomach” about the deal and went on to criticize his fellow Democrats for opposing the plan.
In 2015, the then-governor allocated millions of dollars in state funds after an Austrian chipmaker decided to build in Utica. At the time, it was reported as being a “signature plan” for the governor, cementing his commitment to prioritizing economic growth upstate. But a few months later, a federal investigation led to the plan abruptly ending.
There were also some Cuomo-era projects that have not been given the boot yet but face an uphill battle. Among them was the controversial plan to revitalize Penn Station. Cuomo’s Empire Station Complex plan was arguably the launching pad for Hochul’s current revitalization project. The plans to reconstruct Penn Station have been met with some discontent about whether to move the Madison Square Garden as well as about the size of tax breaks for surrounding real estate development projects.
NEXT STORY: Legislature takes a knife to Hochul’s agenda in budget proposals